Manmohan to visit Saudi Arabia, first PM in 28 years

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2010 12:23 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to leave on a three-day to visit to Saudi Arabia on February 27. Singh will be the first Indian PM in 28 years to visit the Gulf country.

Nine agreements are on the cards including the extradition treaty, exchange of sentenced prisoners, agreements related to science and technology besides expanding cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector.

According to government sources, plans are also afoot for getting the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) - one of the world's leading manufacturers of chemicals, fertilizers, plastics and metals - in on various petrochemical projects in India.

Saudi Arabia is India's biggest crude oil supplier, amounting to 20 per cent of country's total requirements and Delhi is keen on expanding ties in this sector to ensure that the Saudi investments come to oil refining in India.

India in turn is offering up to 10 per cent equity to Saudi Aramco, the petroleum company with the world’s largest oil reserves, in a refinery being built up at Paradip in Orissa.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma are part of the PM's delegation, and a 15- member business delegation is also travelling separately to Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi-India investment fund is also to be announced during the visit.

The extradition treaty will go a long away in denying safe havens for many wanted in India, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim being among them, sources said.

The Prime Minister will address the Majlis as-Shura ( Shura Council) which is the 150-member consultative assembly of Saudi Arabia. The Consultative Assembly is based in the Al-Yamamh Palace, Riyadh.

 

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